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Courtesy of Comcast

For College sophomore Whitney Stewart, representing those who have conquered adversity is a lifelong commitment. And that commitment does occasionally have its own perks.

Stewart, who was named National Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America last fall, was flown to Rio de Janeiro to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the programming production set for the Summer Olympics, courtesy of Comcast-NBCUniversal.

Along the way, she collected a number of memories, including meeting Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, as well as trekking atop the city in an open-aired jeep to see Christ the Redeemer, a famous city statue.

The chance to see two sides of Rio — both the luxury of Copacabana Beach and the favelas — was a valuable experience, Stewart said.

“We were able to get a view of the city, just Rio unedited,” she said.

As National Youth of the Year, Stewart serves as a spokesperson for BGCA and represents four million youth across the country, many of whom have come from disadvantaged backgrounds. To represent them at the Olympics in Rio was a once in a lifetime opportunity, she said.

“The Olympians I was able to meet had to conquer a lot of adversity growing up,” Stewart said. “It’s a testament to how much the kids of the Boys and Girls Club are able to achieve in spite of any obstacles they may face.”

Comcast-NBCUniversal, a national partner of BGCA, arranged the four-day trip which included a tour of the TODAY set and the chance to speak to television personalities Ryan Seacrest and Bob Costas.

Stewart met Phelps on the set of the TODAY show, where he talked with her about his family and his plans for after he retires from Olympic swimming, she said.

She encountered another surprise when she ran into actor Zac Efron on the way to the gymnastics competition.

At Penn, Stewart is a member of the Black Wharton Undergraduate Association and the vice president of the Polybian Society, which is a branch of the Government and Politics Association.

“[Whitney is] a very thoughtful and intelligent young lady,” Associate Marketing Director for BGCA Lauren Price said.

After graduation, Stewart would like to be a consultant, eventually pursuing a career at the intersection of law, public service and business, she said. She believes that consulting will give her the tools to find innovative solutions to complex problems.

Stewart, who is the oldest of three children, was delighted by her family’s excitement as they followed her on social media throughout her trip to Rio.

“A lot of my family and friends were able to experience the Olympics through me.”

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